travel budget travel planning

Google Flights late summer fare deals to Europe

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September, near the end of summer, is my favorite time of year to travel around Europe. Tourism crowds decrease, yet weather in northern Europe is generally still warm, while southern Europe is more tolerable temperatures than mid-July and August.

Best of all, airline ticket prices from USA to European cities drop significantly.

September 15-16 major airline ticket price drop

As of today, the major drop in airfare for California to Europe tickets happens on the weekend of Sep 15-16, 2018. Based on airfare trends of recent years, I anticipate dates for low fares will shift to early September some time in June, then low fares shift to August departure travel deals in July for people who can ticket and travel on short notice.

As an example, Star Alliance generally has the lowest fares to several cities in Europe today from California airports LAX, SFO, SJC compared to Oneworld and SkyTeam alliances. There is a substantial drop in ticket prices for departures on Thursday Sep 13 compared to departures from California to Europe on Sun Sep 16.

The difference a couple of days make is illustrated in Google Flights Explore Map mode.

Google Flights California-Europe Thursday September 13 departures

(filtered for Star Alliance airlines only)

  • Oslo $530 United
  • Copenhagen $532
  • Reykjavik $566 Air Canada and United
  • Stockholm $614
  • Milan $622
  • London $623
  • Paris $651
  • Barcelona $654
  • Dublin $667
  • Warsaw $687
  • Rome $695

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Google Flights California-Europe

Sunday September 16 departures (filtered for Star Alliance airlines only)

  • Oslo $383 United ($147 lower)
  • Copenhagen $431 ($101 lower)
  • Paris $437 ($214 lower)
  • Rome $458 ($237 lower)
  • Stockholm $481 ($133 lower)
  • London $488 ($135 lower)
  • Reykjavik $566 Air Canada and United (no change)
  • Warsaw $594 ($93 lower)
  • Milan $622 (no change)
  • Barcelona $632 ($22 lower)
  • Dublin $652 ($15 lower)

a screenshot of a computer screen

A couple of days can mean a huge difference in ticket price when your travel dates border seasonal airline ticket price changes.

August 16 is another ticket price shift date

A similar airline ticket price shift happens around Thursday, August 16 when prices drop by about $200 if you return from Paris and several other cities in Europe on or after Aug 16, compared to return flights on Wednesday, August 15.

Google Flights fare matrix ticket prices for San Jose-Paris

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  • $873 Sun Aug 5 – Wed Aug 15 San Jose SJC – Paris round trip
  • $618 Sun Aug 5 – Thu Aug 16 San Jose SJC – Paris round trip

San Jose SJC – Paris round trip tickets are $250 to $300+ less when you return on Thursday, Aug 16 compared to one day earlier peak season prices in effect through Wednesday August 15.

Different routes have different peak season dates.

San Francisco – Rome has Saturday August 18 as the first low fare return date. The price difference is a bit staggering since Saturday Aug 18 or Sat Aug 25 are the first two low fare dates for return flights in late August with all dates in between hundreds of dollars higher for a round trip ticket to Rome.

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  • $642 round trip SFO – Rome Sat Aug 4 – Sat Aug 18
  • $941 round trip SFO – Rome Sat Aug 4 – Mon Aug 20 (next lowest fare)

If you want a 2-week trip, then a return on Saturday Aug 18 saves hundreds of dollars or stay to Sat August 25.

Google Flights Explore Maps used in conjunction with Google Flights Fare Matrix is a useful money saving tool for trip planning.


  • Jimmy June 2, 2018

    This is a really good overview. Thanks. I managed to snag SFO-Paris nonstops on Air France for the last two weeks of August for $425 rt. Prices tend to drop a bit from crazy mid-summer highs the second or third week of August, and it still fits into school summer break.

  • Doggie Travel June 2, 2018

    Thanks for the post. What do you think of business class fares? When is a good time to get deals? Is it too late now to get deals for travel in August?

  • Ric Garrido June 2, 2018

    @Doggie Travel – I generally don’t pay attention to Business Class fares.
    In response to your comment I see there are Condor charter flights from many cities in the US to many cities in Europe from $2,000 for travel in August.

    The catch is economy class travel to a city with Condor flights.
    The lowest fares look to be connecting to Minneapolis-Frankfurt flights. The fare is similar whether departure airport is from California or Minneapolis. There are connecting flights from Frankfurt to cities across Europe flying Lufthansa economy.

    For example:
    SFO-FRA Frankfurt $1,990. Fly Sun Country SFO-MSP in economy, then MSP-FRA in business.*FRA.SFO.2018-08-17;c:USD;e:1;sc:b;sd:1;t:f

    SFO-Venice VCE $2,290. Fly Sun Country SFO-MSP in economy, then MSP-FRA in business, then Lufthansa FRA-Venice in economy.*VCE.SFO.2018-08-17;c:USD;e:1;sc:b;sd:1;t:f

  • Doggie Travel June 2, 2018

    Thanks. My reservation about Condor is that their biz seats aren’t fully flat and that many don’t have direct aisle access.

    One trick I can think of is to use miles to get ex-US trip and then purchase an ex-EU trip on return. Of course, the max stay of this latter roundtrip has to be long enough to allow me to return to EU next time.

  • Kalboz June 4, 2018

    Our kids are going back to school on 8/13 – anything earlier including return before that date?

  • Ric Garrido June 5, 2018

    @Kalboz – Dates are moving earlier into August from some cities. United now has tickets at $521 round trip for SJC-CDG Paris Aug 7-20.

    Prices have dropped about $200 from time of this post.

    A ticket from Europe back to California in August for dates I want has dropped $100 this week from $730 to $630. I am still waiting for a ticket price under $550 before I buy.

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